Ohio birth injury attorney explains what to look for after your child’s birth
Roughly every 20 minutes, a baby is born with a birth injury somewhere in the United States, according to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s more than 26,200 birth injuries every year or roughly 3 percent of all newborn infants.
But how do parents know if their child has a birth injury? What are the symptoms? What are the warning signs of a birth injury or defect? And how soon after a child’s birth are these symptoms noticeable?
Knowing what to look for – and when to look – can be confusing. But it’s critical that parents recognize if something is wrong with their child as soon as possible. That way, parents can get the medical care and attention infants need right away, which can improve a child’s ability to recover from a birth injury.
Below, you can find some of the symptoms often associated with common birth injuries. Please be aware that many children often have different symptoms or medical issues for similar birth injuries. That’s why it’s important to talk about any concerns you might have about your child’s health with your child’s doctor or pediatrician as soon as possible.
What are common birth injuries?
According to birth statistics compiled by the CDC, these are some of the most common birth injuries involving newborn infants:
- Cerebral palsy, a type of muscle disorder that affects roughly 3 infants for every 1,000 births.
- Brain injuries, which can cover a wide range, including Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), and which affect roughly 3 newborn infants for every 1,000 births.
- Spinal cord injuries, which can cover a wide range of injuries to a newborn infant’s spine.
- Shoulder injuries, including brachial plexus injuries, which affect roughly 2 to 3 infants for every 1,000 births.
- Facial paralysis, including Bell’s Palsy, in which newborn infants cannot move different parts of their face.
These are just some of the most common birth injuries. There are many other types of birth injuries and each one can affect children in a different way at different points in their lives. Experienced pediatricians and doctors know what to look for when examining newborn children. That’s why it’s important to get regular medical checkups for your child soon after their birth.
What are common warning signs?
Identifying common warning signs of a birth injury can be difficult because such symptoms can occur at different times in a newborn infant’s life. Sometimes, such symptoms are visible within minutes of a baby’s birth. That’s why doctors perform an Apgar test twice in the first few minutes after an infant is born. A low Apgar score is one of the first indications that a child might have a birth injury. Newborn children with a low Apgar score often display some of the following symptoms:
- Low heart rate.
- Little or no movement in their arms or legs.
- Difficulty breathing.
- No response to stimulation.
Other times, warning signs of a birth injury are not visible for several weeks, months or sometimes even years after a baby is born. This is why doctors need to keep a close eye on an infant’s physical and mental development throughout their childhood. If a child has a birth injury, they will often experience developmental delays, which means they’re developing at a slower rate than children the same age. There’s a wide range of warning signs when it comes to developmental delays, starting at 2 months and up until a child turns 5 years old. Warning signs of a developmental delay can include:
- 2-month-old infant cannot hold their head up or follow other people’s movements.
- 4-month-old infant does not respond to people’s voices.
- 6-month-old infant does not sit up on its own or recognize familiar faces.
- 9-month-old infant does not crawl or understand simple words like “no.”
- 12-month-old infant does not copy other people’s gestures or say simple words.
- 18-month-old infant cannot walk on its own or drink from a cup.
Each child develops at their own pace. Just because a child has not reached certain milestones by a specific time does not automatically mean they have a birth injury. But it’s important to take such missed milestones seriously and discuss them with your child’s doctor right away.
What do these warning signs mean?
So what does it mean if a newborn infant has certain specific medical issues? Certain symptoms sometimes mean that a child has a specific type of birth injury. For instance:
- Poor muscle tone could be an indication of cerebral palsy.
- Stiff or awkward movements could mean cerebral palsy.
- No response to stimulation could be a warning sign of a brain injury.
- Seizures might indicate that a child has a brain injury.
- Difficulty moving their arms could be an indication of a shoulder injury, including a brachial plexus injury.
- Low heart rate could be an indication of fetal distress, especially during the delivery process.
- Difficulty breathing might indicate that an infant has a respiratory disease or illness.
There are many other symptoms and warning signs of a possible birth injury. Whatever type of medical issue you notice with your child, talk to your doctor right away. It’s critical that you take your child’s medical issues seriously right from the start.
What causes birth injuries?
In many cases, birth injuries occur due to mistakes made by medical professionals. This is commonly known as medical negligence, meaning a doctor or another healthcare professional did not follow standard medical procedures when caring for the mother or the baby.
Sometimes, these medical errors occur during pregnancy. This is why doctors need to be aware of common maternal risk factors (health issues affecting the mother) and fetal risk factors (medical issues affecting an unborn child during pregnancy).
Other times, children sustain a birth injury during the delivery process. This may be due to delivery delays, cesarean (C-section) errors and medical professionals improperly using medical devices, including misuse of forceps and extractors.
Another common scenario involves medical professionals making mistakes while caring for a newborn infant. These types of injuries or illnesses are known as neonatal injuries.
What should parents do in response?
If you believe your child has a birth injury, it’s important to act fast for your child’s health and for legal reasons as well. This is because many states have strict deadlines for taking legal action in response to medical negligence.
Every birth injury is different but some of the most important steps parents should take include:
- Seek immediate medical treatment for your child. Early intervention is critical for your child’s health and creates documentation of the injury.
- Document your child’s injury or illness. This can range from keeping a written journal of your child’s symptoms or taking photos of your child’s injury.
- If your doctor claims there’s nothing wrong with your child, get a second opinion. Don’t take chances with your child’s health. You know your child best.
- Contact an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you talk to a lawyer, the better.
Why should I contact a birth injury lawyer?
Birth injuries often turn out to be complicated legal cases. The responsible medical professionals often hire a lawyer to defend their actions and deny your child’s injury claim, which could turn out to be worth millions of dollars or significantly more.
This money is important since it can be a lifeline for your family. With the financial compensation you receive, you can make sure your child receives exceptional medical care throughout their lifetime and that all your family’s injury-related expenses (including loss of income if you or your spouse cannot work or has to work less to care for your child) are covered by the at-fault party.
We know what’s at stake at The Lancione Law Firm near Cleveland. That’s because we have decades of experience handling complicated birth injury claims in Ohio and nationwide. Award-winning Ohio birth injury lawyer John A. Lancione has a well-earned reputation for successfully resolving such complex legal cases. Since our law firm was founded, we have obtained more than $350 million in settlements and verdicts for medical negligence victims, including one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in Ohio.
Learn more about how we can help you. Contact our law firm and schedule a free consultation with Cleveland birth injury attorney John A. Lancione. He can answer your questions and explain your legal options. You can reach us online or simply call (440) 331-6100 or (877) 515-4369 to start your legal journey with The Lancione Law Firm.